Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fiji Media Center Beta Inches Closer

We have been waiting for Microsoft to open the beta for Fiji, the suspected codename for the next version of Media Center for well over a year now.  I first posted about it in March of last year, with invites first opening just a month after that, and now it appears we may finally have taken a step forward.

Users (who shall remain nameless, because I edited them out) at The Green Button are reporting that they have received e-mails from Microsoft Connect.  If true, this would be the first step to finally getting something in our hands to play with (under NDA of course).

This release will bring DIRECTV support among other unannounced features.  I had expected it to include HD DVD support, but I wouldn’t count on that any more.  Other features have been kept under tight wraps, though I’ve got a few in mind that I’m rather sure will be there.

Update: Engadget HD points to a user who leaked their invite for the DIRECTV beta (bad move, considering Engadget published their first name!).




Windows Vista SP1 Survival Guide

After a little more than a year in the wild, it's high time for Windows Vista to receive the service pack it deserves. While Service Pack 1 won't change the way Windows Vista looks or feels, for the most part, it will improve many things about the way it runs, based on both Microsoft 's internal testing and the feedback of tens of thousands of users.
SP1 has been both heavily anticipated and badly needed. While the gold release of Vista was for the most part solid enough to use as a production system, there were still many frustrating rough edges.
In the light of these problems, one of the most commonly repeated canards about using Vista was, "I'll just wait until SP1 comes out." Well, SP1 is now almost out. A release candidate, which is the version we tested, was made available towards the end of last year. More recently, Microsoft officially released SP1 to manufacturing in February to TechNet and MSDN customers. The actual, wide public release to users at large is expected sometime in March. 

Full story: InformationWeek

Friday, March 28, 2008

Announcing the Windows Search 4.0 Preview

To search for files on my PCs, I use Windows Search - Windows Vista's desktop search feature. I use Windows Search specifically to find photos that I've tagged in Windows Live Photo Gallery or important emails and Word documents. I also rely on saving specific searches that I can go back to later on. Searching and being able to find important files quickly on my PC is very important to me.  And Windows Search allows me to "find my stuff" whenever I need to. Today we get to see a little "preview" of the next step for Windows Search. The Windows Search Team is making available Windows Search 4.0 Preview - a preview of the next version of desktop search for Windows.

Windows Search 4.0 introduces several improvements I'd like to call out making search even better in Windows Vista:

  • With Windows Search 4.0, the Windows Search Team has fixed most of the reported bugs causing a majority of distractions users have seen since Windows Vista RTM - many of those bugs were reported by you.
  • Great improvements have been made with regards to performance.Even now as Preview, Windows Search 4.0 has query response time about 33%faster than search queries in Windows Vista RTM.
  • The Windows Search Team has extended Remote Index Discovery for PC-to-PC search to work onevery supported version of Windows. This makes finding information on other PCs running Windows Search 4.0 quick and less resource-consuming. Now Windows Search can find information shared on a remote PC by accessing an index on that PC - and you will open files only when relevant to your search. This will also work if the user's profile is redirected.
  • The Windows Search Team has implemented Rollback Recovery where your search index will roll back to the last known good state (this is good in handling disc write errors). If an error occurs, your index isn't rebuilt from scratch; only the newly changed files are added to the index, making recovery from system errors not as disruptive to the machine or the user

Being able to find files isn't just important to consumers - it is also important to IT Professionals managing enterprise environments. The Windows Search Team has made some improvements in Windows Search 4.0 that IT Professionals should take note of:

  • We have improved performance when indexing Exchange in online mode, sending fewer packets and making less RPC calls. In this process we apply significantly less load on the Exchange server too.
  • Support for Group Policy settings is extended and improved; per-user policy is supported now.
  • We now support EFS - Windows Search 4.0 will index encrypted files, and user can search for them in the sane UI and through the same user experience as seen with regular, unencrypted files.

IT Professionals can expect a smooth deployment for Windows Search 4.0 and easier support.

With Windows Search 4.0, the Windows Search Team has taken the next step in improving the PC search experience in Windows. To download and check out the Windows Search 4.0 Preview yourself, click here. I encourage folks to try out the Windows Search 4.0 Preview and let us know what you think!

source- Windows Vista Blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Microsoft Digital Home Makeover Contest

the_contest_headline You’re living the digital lifestyle. The only problem is that you’ve got thousands of digital photos, mp3s, TV shows, spread across a bunch of devices that don’t seem to connect. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of your digital media was shared across all of your devices…seamlessly.

Our makeover team will use Windows® Media Center and Extenders for Windows® Media Center to turn one lucky person’s home into a connected entertainment center. Just make a video telling us about your digital lifestyle and why you need to “Get Connected.” We’ll pick the best video and award the winner a complete digital home makeover.

The Microsoft® Digital Home Makeover will include a new Media Center PC, Extenders for Windows Media Center, and the other accessories you need to enjoy your digital lifestyle.

Send us your two-minute video and we’ll get your gadgets speaking the same language so your digital lifestyle connects.


One (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive a "Digital Home Makeover". Grand Prize consists of a custom home entertainment system evaluation from an expert plus up to $10,000 USD in custom solutions based on the expert's evaluation. Total Approximate Retail Value=$10,000 USD. This prize may or may not include the various items depicted in any promotional materials for this Contest. This prize does not include remodeling or redecorating the winner's home to accommodate any new equipment awarded. Any applicable taxes on the prize or expenses not listed herein are the sole responsibility of the winner. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value if entire prize or a portion of the advertised prize is unavailable for any reason. Prize is not redeemable for cash. No barter, transfer, or assignment of any prize permitted, except by Sponsor at its sole discretion. Expert will be designated and provided by Sponsor at their sole discretion. Some restrictions may apply and all terms and conditions of the prize offered will be furnished at the time of prize award.

For more info visit:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Citigroup: Microsoft likely to raise bid for Yahoo

Microsoft will most likely increase its initial $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo, according to a Citigroup Investment Research analyst.

"We believe that a Yahoo sale to Microsoft -- at a price higher than the initial $31 [per share] bid -- is the most likely outcome," said analyst Mark Mahaney in a research note Monday.

Yahoo's board of directors rejected Microsoft's initial offer saying it undervalued the company.

Mahaney added that the limited combined market share of the two companies would also allow the deal to get the thumbs up from governmental regulators.

Citigroup also raised its price target on Yahoo's stock to $34 from $31, saying that the new target price reflected its belief that Microsoft would increase its bid for the company.

"We think the strategic value of Yahoo to Microsoft is very significant," Mahaney said.

Mahaney said Microsoft is unlikely to walk away from the deal because it has yet to make significant inroads in the area of online advertising, especially against market leader Google, despite efforts to do so for the past three to four years. The only way Microsoft could compete with Google would be to acquire Yahoo, the analyst said.

Mahaney said Yahoo is aggressively pursuing other alternatives to Microsoft's unsolicited takeover bid, although he doesn't see any competing bidders for the company.


Windows Mobile 6.1 to be released on 1 April

Pocket-lint has learnt from sources close to the matter that Microsoft will announce the much-rumoured refresh to its mobile phone operating system, Windows Mobile, on 1 April 2008.
An improvement over Windows Mobile 6 released in February 2007 the new version, unsurprisingly named 6.1, will be a stop-gap measure to keep both consumers and industry happy until the launch of Windows Mobile 7.
Leaked screenshots of 6.1 have already done the rounds in the blogosphere, and show the system has been simplified with the screens displaying less mess than the Vista-inspired version 6.


Microsoft admits it knew about, didn't patch, bugs

Microsoft Corp.'s security team today acknowledged that it knew of bugs in its Jet Database Engine as far back as 2005 but did not patch the problems because it thought it had blocked the obvious attack vectors.

A researcher at Symantec Corp. said Microsoft should have fixed the flaws years ago.

In a post to the Microsoft Security Research Center (MSRC) blog late Monday afternoon, Mike Reavey, the MSRC's operations manager, admitted that outside researchers had notified Microsoft in 2005 and 2007 of separate bugs in Jet, a Windows component that provides data access to applications such as Microsoft Access and Visual Basic.

Source- Computerworld

Microsoft May Bring Office Suite to the iPhone

Among the most requested software for the iPhone is a suite of applications to allow users to work with Microsoft Office files. One company that's considering developing this is at once the most surprising and the most obvious: Microsoft itself.

A team of Microsoft developers is currently testing the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) with an eye toward making a version of Office, according to Fortune. The company is a long way away from making any commitments, though.

The iPhone currently allows users to view Word documents that come in as email attachments, but a version of Microsoft Office would allow these documents to be edited, too.

Source- Brighthand

Halo 3 Heroic Map Pack Now A Free Download

Microsoft on Tuesday eliminated the charge for a series of downloadable maps for its smash hit Halo 3 video game. The add-on maps let online players add new battle zones to the Xbox 360 title.

The three maps in the Halo 3 Heroic Map Pack are now available for free through the Xbox Live marketplace. The maps previously cost 800 "Microsoft points", or about $10.00.

One map, called "Standoff," features a symmetrical valley with entrenched bases and boulders for cover. Another, titled "Rat's Nest", provides players with "labyrinthine passages" to work through, according to Microsoft. Finally, "Foundry" includes numerous, editable objects -- such as walls, bridges, and tunnels -- that players can place wherever they like to create a custom battlefield.

Microsoft also said it would release a new series of maps on April 15 in a suite called the Legendary Map Pack. The pack will cost 800 Microsoft points.

A first person shooter, Halo 3 features a biologically enhanced super-soldier named Master Chief who -- armed with plasma rays and other futuristic weapons -- has to blast his way through various levels to accomplish missions. He's countered by an alliance of hostile aliens called The Covenant.

Since it Halo 3, Halo 3 has set numerous video game industry sales records. It posted $170 million in first day receipts, and took in $300 million in its first week. To date, more than 5 million copies of Halo 3 have been sold.

Master Chief was ensconced in popular culture when Madame Tussauds' wax museum in Las Vegas in September unveiled a "life size" statue of the character standing 7-feet, 2-inches tall.

Source- InformationWeek

Microsoft Quietly Launches Interoperability Forum

When Microsoft laid out its broad commitment to more openness last month, one of the concrete steps it said it would take was the opening of the Interoperability Forum to allow customers around the world to have an open dialogue on how Microsoft products could work better with those of other vendors. That forum is now online, albeit empty and unannounced.

One of the four interoperability principles Microsoft announced last month was a pledge to more openly engage customers, partners, and third-party vendors in conversation about the company's direction. The company announced that it would be holding a series of events, hosting online content, and directly engaging people online to create a deeper conversation about how Microsoft should be integrating and interoperating with third-party products.

The Interoperability Forum is one of those new ventures, though its presence isn't the most out in the open. Hosted on Microsoft's MSDN Forums, the Interoperability Forum has thus far seen only posts from Microsoft, with no community involvement whatsoever. In order to get to the forum, which appears to have launched March 19, those interested have to know where to look on Microsoft's own interoperability Web site, and then have to click through several screens to get to the actual forum.

Microsoft's forum has three areas: interoperability conversations, technical interoperability scenarios, and achieving interoperability through standards. The first aims to facilitate general conversation, the next to discuss and resolve technical issues related to interoperability, and the third to talk about how Microsoft should adhere to industry standards.

There are other places where Microsoft has begun a dialogue about interoperability, such as Port 25, a Microsoft blog that focuses on Microsoft's involvement in and engagement with the open source community. The company has also set up more formal ventures with top customers and partners to determine where interoperability is most important, including a group of top CIOs and CTOs called the Interoperability Customer Executive Council and a similar group of software vendors called the Interop Vendor Alliance.

Source- InformationWeek

Hyper-V Management tool for Vista released

Update for Windows Vista (KB949758)

Install this update to enable remote management of a Windows Server 2008 computer running the Hyper-V RC0 role.

Update for Windows Vista x64 Edition (KB949758)

Install this update to enable remote management of a Windows Server 2008 computer running the Hyper-V RC0 role.

Microsoft Security Assessment Tool 3.5

The Microsoft Security Assessment Tool 3.5 is the revised version of the original Microsoft Security Risk Self-Assessment Tool (MSRSAT), released in 2004 and the Microsoft Security Assessment Tool 2.0 released in 2006. Security issues have evolved since 2004 so additional questions and answers were needed to ensure you had a comprehensive toolset to become more aware of the evolving security threat landscape that could impact your organization.
The tool employs a holistic approach to measuring your security posture by covering topics across people, process, and technology. Findings are coupled with prescriptive guidance and recommended mitigation efforts, including links to more information for additional industry guidance. These resources may assist you in keeping you aware of specific tools and methods that can help change the security posture of your IT environment.
There are three assessments that define the Microsoft Security Assessment Tool:

  • Business Risk Profile Assessment
  • Defense in Depth Assessment (UPDATED)
  • Mid-Market Security Core Infrastructure Operations Assessment (NEW)

The questions identified in the survey portion of the tool and the associated answers are derived from commonly accepted best practices around security, both general and specific. The questions and the recommendations that the tool offers are based on standards such as ISO 17799 and NIST-800.x, as well as recommendations and prescriptive guidance from Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group and additional security resources valued in the industry.

Download Here

Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista SP1

Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) enables IT administrators to remotely manage roles and features in Windows Server 2008 from a computer running Windows Vista with SP1. It includes support for remote management of computers running either a Server Core installation or the full installation option of Windows Server 2008. It provides similar functionality to Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack.

Microsoft Partners with Top Social Networks to Put Users at the Center of their Data

Today Microsoft is announcing some significant developments to the Windows Live platform that demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to data portability and giving users a choice of how to use and control their information.

Today I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has partnered with some of the world’s top social networks on contact data portability. Starting today, we will be working with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn to exchange functionally-similar Contacts APIs, allowing us to create a safe, secure two-way street for users to move their relationships between our respective services. Along with these collaborations, Microsoft is introducing a new website at that people can visit to invite their friends from our partner social networks to join their Windows Live Messenger contact list.

The collaborations with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, LinkedIn and Tagged will make it easier, safer, and more secure for people to have access to their contacts and relationships from more places on the web. These networks will be adopting the Windows Live Contacts API instead of “screen-scraping.”  Starting today, you can visit and to find your friends using the Windows Live Contacts API.  Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn will be live in the coming months.

With these collaborations and the new website at that lets people invite their social network friends to join their Windows Live Messenger contact list, we’ve essentially now created a two-way street for people to share their information.

In completing this two-way street, both Windows Live and our partners have paid special attention to relationship context and privacy management in order to create the best possible user experience.  We understand that just because people have a friend relationship with a contact on one social network, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want that same relationship on another network. To preserve the context of the relationship, we are requiring that relationships be re-established in each experience with permission from the friend or contact, rather than automatically storing the data.

We encourage you to visit to see these ideas in action, and to invite your Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, LinkedIn and Tagged friends to join you on the world’s largest instant messaging network, Windows Live Messenger.

Source- Windows Live Dev blog

Visual Studio 2008 Product Comparison Guide

This guide provides a comprehensive product comparison of the Visual Studio 2008 IDE products. It does not provide data about Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Explorer, or Visual Studio Team System 2008 Test Load Agent. This guide is provided for illustrative purposes only.

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000; Windows Server 2003; Windows Vista; Windows XP

To view the Word document, you'll need a copy of Microsoft Office Word 2007, or Microsoft Word 97 or later with the free Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats.
To view the PDF file, you'll need a PDF reader, such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
To view the XPS file, you'll need Windows Vista, or the Microsoft XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack.

Download here

Microsoft Money Plus Home & Business Trial (US Only)

Microsoft® Money Plus Home & Business makes managing home and business finances fast, easy, and automatic. Download a free trial today so you can spend less time worrying about your money and more time enjoying it.
Note, this is a US only download.

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows Vista; Windows XP Service Pack 2

• 130 MB of available hard-disk space, plus an additional 200 MB while installing product updates
• CD-ROM drive
• Internet access (requires an Internet service provider “ISP”; local and/or long-distance telephone toll charges may apply)
• Most online features require you to sign in to Money with your Windows Live ID (e-mail and password)
• Audio output capability (optional)
• SVGA graphics card or compatible video graphics adapter; SVGA color monitor with a minimum of 256 colors, capable of displaying 800 × 600 resolution; 16-bit color recommended
For PCs with Windows Vista:
• Pentium 1-gigahertz (GHz) 32-bit (x86) processor or 1-GHz 64-bit (x64) processor or faster (or compatible)
• 1 GB of RAM
• Support for DirectX® 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory
• Compatible version of Flash in order to play Help videos
For PCs with Windows XP:
• Pentium II 300-MHz or faster processor (or compatible)
• 128 MB of RAM


Microsoft Money Plus Home & Business Trial (US Only)

Microsoft Money Essentials Trial (US Only)

Windows Live Dev gets a makeover

Having remained with the old "Flair" design since May 2007, Windows Live Dev finally gets a new look ( But don't be surprised to not find the Wave 2.0 look when you enter, because the designers at Microsoft preferred to make it look more like this. On the positive side, the new website allows developers to find what they need much more easier than before. I still wonder why they didn't use Silverlight though...

Here's a screenshot of the new website:



Source- LiveSide

Word users threatened by new attack

Microsoft has issued a warning that cyber criminals could advantage of an unpatched flaw in Windows to install malicious software on a victim's PC. The reported attack, now under investigation by Microsoft, involves a malicious Word document, but there may be other ways of exploiting the flaw, the company said.
"Do not open or save Word files that you receive from untrusted sources or that you receive unexpectedly from trusted sources," according to a Microsoft security advisory. The flaw lies in the Jet Database Engine that is used by a number of products including Microsoft Access. Microsoft is investigating whether other programs may also be exploited in this type of attack. Although this kind of unpatched, "zero day" attack is always cause for concern, Microsoft downplayed the risk.

source: TechWorld

Windows XP SP3 Due Next Month, Report Says, a Malaysian Web site that nailed Vista SP1's release-to-manufacturing (RTM) date last month as well as its release to Windows Update last week, said that Microsoft will wrap up work on XP's third and final service pack next month. The site pegged RTM for Windows XP SP3 as "second half of April 2008" for seven languages, with a follow-on RTM of the remaining supported languages "approximately 21 days" later. By TechARP's account, Microsoft will first finish work on the Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish versions of the service pack.
Microsoft declined comment, other than to repeat an earlier statement about the service pack's timing. "We are targeting 1H [first half] 2008 for the release of XP SP3 RTM, though our timing will always be based on customer feedback as a first priority," a spokeswoman said in an e-mail. The last time Microsoft made a public move with Windows XP SP3 was a little over a month ago, when it posted a second release candidate to Windows Update.

source: PC World

Entrepreneurs and Experts Reveal Big Ideas at Microsoft’s Small Business Summit 2008

Microsoft Corp. today kicked off its third annual Microsoft Small Business Summit, broadcasting live from Microsoft Studios to an expected crowd of 200,000 online participants nationwide. Over the next four days, more than 50 entrepreneurs and industry experts will define ways in which small-business owners can work smarter by revealing the latest trends and best practices for those who wear the many hats of the self-employed. Cindy Bates, general manager for U.S. Small Business at Microsoft, opened the event by acknowledging how Microsoft is working with customers to continually deliver innovation to the small-business community.

“Since the inception of the Small Business Summit, in 2006, we have delivered more than 20 products and services specifically designed to empower small-business owners,” Bates said. “Recognizing that companies with 50 or fewer employees may have limited IT resources, we look to deliver customer-driven innovation and solutions that enable self-employed people at any stage of growth to focus on running their small business. Today marks another milestone of our efforts to work with small-business owners to bring the right solutions to market with the upcoming availability of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) on the Microsoft Response Point phone system.”

The availability this summer of a free feature update, Service Pack 1 (SP1), to Microsoft Response Point phone systems will enable U.S. small businesses to take advantage of VoIP. With Response Point SP1, small-business owners will have the flexibility to easily transition from traditional analog service to digital voice service, and within a few mouse clicks, can help improve their communications and cut business costs. According to small-business research firm Access Markets International (AMI) Partners Inc., a small business with 10 to19 employees can save an average of $8,000 in the first year by purchasing an IP-based phone system such as Response Point.


More info can be found here

Microsoft Continues to Innovate Rapidly With Service Pack Release for Small-Business Phone System

U.S. small businesses can soon take advantage of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone service on Microsoft Response Point phone systems to improve their business communications. Today at the third annual Microsoft Small Business Summit, Microsoft Corp. announced it will release a feature update, Service Pack 1 (SP1), to its Microsoft Response Point phone system software this summer, available free via a simple download.

“Small businesses rely heavily on the phone to communicate with customers and want a solution that allows them to reliably reach as many customers as possible at a low cost,” said Xuedong Huang, general manager for Response Point at Microsoft. “Response Point SP1 will make it easy to transition from traditional analog service to the promise of digital voice services.”

Response Point SP1 will enable small businesses to easily supplement their existing phone service with VoIP services. As customers become more comfortable with the reliability and quality of service offered by VoIP, they can seamlessly move from analog to VoIP without needing telephony expertise.

Recognizing that small businesses have ebbs and flows in employee hiring, SP1 will take advantage of the flexibility of VoIP to allow small businesses to scale much more rapidly and cost-effectively than with traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) lines. If IP service is in place, using a simple VoIP account setup wizard in the Response Point Administrator, a small business can connect with Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs) to add new VoIP phone numbers in a matter of minutes. The process to install traditional analog lines can take days or even weeks. According to small-business research firm Access Markets International (AMI) Partners Inc., a small business with 10 to 19 employees can save an average of $8,000 in the first year by purchasing an IP-based phone system such as Response Point.


More info can be found here

Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Service Provider Edition (KB 944373)

Microsoft has released Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 3.0 Service Provider Edition and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 client for Outlook Service Provider Edition.
For more information about this release, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 944373:
Update Rollup 2 is available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Service Provider Edition
To maintain parity between the client and server components of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Service Provider Edition, this update rollup includes packages for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Server Service Provider Edition and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 client for Outlook Service Provider Edition.


You can download it here

Need Vista SP1 help? Call Redmond toll-free

Microsoft is providing free phone support for Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 users — whether they get their SP1 from Microsoft or via a PC maker or other retailer — through March 2009.

There’s got to be a catch, right?

Surprisingly, the caveats are relatively minor. The help is specifically for SP1 installation and compatibility issues. And the offer stands through March 18, 2009.

According to M3 Sweatt, the Chief of Staff for Windows Core Operating System Division (COSD), the offer of free SP1 help is not unprecedented. Microsoft has provided free support for previous Windows service pack installations.

Sweatt blogged on March 24 about the procedure those needing help should follow:

“If you call in for support, listen carefully to the options on the line as you wait and navigate for support. When you speak with an operator, be sure to tell the customer support agent that you would like support related to the installation of Service Pack one (or ‘SP1′) of Windows Vista. I’ve also seen the wait time drop from 30 minutes for individual chat support to less than 10 just in the last few minutes.”

The toll-free call-in number in the U.S. for Vista SP1 help is (866)-234-6020.

Microsoft made Vista SP1 available to a broader set of customers last week, by making the collection of Vista fixes and features available on Windows Update, the Microsoft Download Center and via retailers like Microsoft is set to push Vista SP1 to users via its Automatic Update mechanism in mid-April.



C2: Microsoft's take on FriendFeed?

Microsoft isn’t usually the first (or second or third) company that folks associate with social networking. But maybe the Redmondians, or at least the researchers on the Microsoft Research C2 team, aren’t as unsociable as some assume.
Microsoft showed off earlier this month at its TechFest research fair a handful of new social-computing projects. One of these, codenamed “C2,” shares some similarities with the FriendFeed social-network-data aggregation service — and seemingly is on the fast track to become part of Microsoft’s Windows Live client for mobile devices.
C2 was named for “Circle 2,” a company that a couple of Softies were planning to start after they quit Microsoft. Instead of leaving, the researchers ended up defecting from the Windows desktop search team — the old “Casino” group — to Microsoft Research’s social computing team.
Microsoft researcher Steve Ickman described C2 — which Microsoft Research launched in November 2007 — as a “social-aggregation toolkit.” It is designed to work across desktop, mobile and Web clients. C2 aggregates data — friends, call history and more — from Windows Live Spaces, FaceBook, MySpace, Flickr, users’ email and other sources.
Ickman said he’d found a way to scrape and synthesize this data using identity-matching algoritms in a way that didn’t run afoul of the terms of service of these various sites. The C2 data is currently weighted heavily toward a user’s Live Contacts, but also picks up profile information from non-Microsoft sites, Ickman explained.
Microsoft is set to begin trials within the company of C2 in April, Ickman said. On a banner in the C2 booth at the TechFest product fair, I noticed that the researchers were advertising that C2 would “ship with product teams,” specifically “Catalyst” and WMT (Windows Media Toolkit, I’m guessing). When I asked Ickman what C2 was, he said he couldn’t comment. But after asking around, I found out “Catalyst” is the codename for “Windows Live for Mobile,” the set of Windows Live services that run on Windows Mobile smartphones.
(Microsoft Research technologies tend to find their way into commercial products this way: The research teams show off their developments at TechFest fairs and other meetings to Microsoft’s product groups. If and when the product teams bite, the research projects begin winding their way along the commercialization track.)
Microsoft’s social-computing group showed off a couple of other social-networking research projects at TechFest, too, including a plug-in for Outlook, codenamed “Salsa,” that would combine public and private feed information with e-mail to put more of a human face on contact data; and an internal Wiki, known as “Micropedia,” that currently catalogs all the people and projects at Microsoft. (Wouldn’t that be a Microsoft watcher’s goldmine!)
There aren’t any external links on Microsoft’s C2 that I could find to shed more light on how and when this research technology could find its way into the broader marketplace. But stay tuned.
Meanwhile, do you think Microsoft consumer customers would be interested in social-networking wares from the company? What about Microsoft’s business users?
Source: Mary Jo Foley

Friday, March 21, 2008

Windows Embedded CE 6.0 Monthly Update (February 2008)

This is a set of updates for Windows Embedded CE released during the period of February 1 - February 29, 2008. These Microsoft Windows Embedded CE updates are fixes for Windows Embedded CE operating system problems you run into during the development and maintenance of your custom platform. To qualify for consideration for an update, a problem needs to cause an excessive amount of work and not have a reasonable workaround.
For complete details regarding the updates in this release, please download the Windows Embedded CE 6.0_Update_080229_2008M02 file below.

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows CE
  • Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 is required to be installed prior to installing this rollup.
    There will be no additional updates available for Windows Embedded CE 6.0. Customers must install Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 to be able to install future updates.
    The following must be installed in order to create a supported Windows Embedded CE 6.0 development environment:
    1. Visual Studio 2005
    2. Visual Studio 2005 SP1
    3. Visual Studio 2005 SP1 Update for Vista (if applicable)
    4. Windows Embedded CE 6.0 Platform Builder
    5. Windows Embedded CE 6.0 SP1 (required if PB 6.0 Tools have been installed)
    6. Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2
    7. Windows Embedded CE 6.0 Cumulative Product Update Rollup 12/31/2007
    NOTE: Do NOT install older update packages after Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 Update Rollup 2007 has been installed.
    Update packages released prior to R2 Product Rollup 2007 will not be available for download starting 03/15/2008.
  • 75 MB of disk space required to download, install, and operate per processor

Download here

Windows Server 2008 Multilingual User Interface Language Packs

Multilingual User Interface Language Packs (Windows Server® Language Packs) enable a multilingual user interface in a Windows Server® 2008 environment. Adding one or more language packs to a Windows Server® 2008 image enables one or more languages in the installed Windows Server® operating system, allowing corporations to deploy the same Windows Server® 2008 image worldwide while still providing localized user interfaces.

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows Server 2008
  • x86 systems require 32-bit (x86) language packs
  • x64 systems require amd64 (x64) language packs
  • Itanium-based systems require Itanium (ia64) language packs

It can be downloaded here

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Overview

Windows® XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) includes all previously released updates for the operating system. This update also includes a small number of new functionalities, which do not significantly change customers’ experience with the operating system. This white paper summarizes what is new in Windows XP SP3.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Overview can be downloaded here

Windows Vista Product Guide Revision Document

A Windows Vista Product Guide Revisions document is made available for consumers who own a print copy of the Windows Vista Product Guide's first release. It outlines the improvements made to Windows Vista by Service Pack 1 as well as explaining minor content changes between the two product guide releases.

U can download it here

IIS7 - Administration Pack - technical preview released

Here are the links to download the new IIS7 admin pack - technical preview version:

  • Administration Pack for IIS 7.0 (x86)
  • Administration Pack for IIS 7.0 (x64)

    This comes with a lot of features which would make life simpler for the web administrators.


    Source- <rakkimk runat="server" />

    Microsoft experiments with managed e-mail

    Employee Managed Mailbox' would give companies more control over e-mail in order to better meet regulatory requirements and e-discovery laws

    Microsoft is experimenting with a potential product that would give companies more control over the electronic messages their staff exchange in order to better meet regulatory requirements and e-discovery laws.

    The product, which has been informally dubbed Employee Managed Mailbox (EMM), is being used internally at Microsoft and may eventually turn into a commercial offering, according to Joel Freedman, chief financial officer at Microsoft Canada.

    "Instead of e-mail that would be utilizing the hard drive, you'd have e-mail that gets managed by a server," he said, adding that a server-based product could help companies do a better job of adhering to compliance-related policies. "You could have a one-month, one-year, or three-year limit on retention [of an e-mail message], for example."

    Freedman suggested EMM could become a direct way for Microsoft to assist corporations who are struggling to keep up with accounting, privacy, and other rules that increasingly govern the way they handle information.

    Source- infoworld

    Microsoft-Onkyo sign deal

    Microsoft Corp. said it's reached a deal with Onkyo Corp. that allows the Tokyo company to use the computer giant's technology in home entertainment devices.

    The Redmond company (NASDAQ: MSFT) didn't say how much Onkyo is paying as part of the deal.

    The patent cross-licensing agreement will allow Onkyo to use Microsoft's technology in consumer audiovisual, electronics, personal computing, and home theater custom installation markets.

    Source- Business Journal

    Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 Now Available!

    I am pleased to announce that Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 is now available from the Microsoft Connect site. If you have not signed up for the beta yet, please do - we are listed as "Windows Installer 4.5" under the "Available Connections" section of the site. If you have already joined the beta, please head back to the Connect site and download the updated bits, tools and documentation.

    This is our last planned beta release before we ship, so your feedback at this stage is especially important!


    - Tyler

    PS: Due to some unfortunate timing, the Microsoft Connect team will be rolling out a new version of the Connect site on Saturday, March 22nd and the site will not be available from 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM (PDT). If you have issues accessing the beta program afterward, please leave a comment on this thread so we can follow-up on any issues. 


    source- Windows Installer Team Blog

    Business Desktop Deployment 2007 update released

    The Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) is best-practice guidance for desktop deployment. BDD is targeted at companies that want to reduce deployment time, effort, and cost by increasing the level of automation. It allows administrators to deploy desktops with Zero Touch and Lite Touch interaction at the target PCs. This solution also helps organizations move to a managed environment with standardized desktop images.
    BDD 2007 is offered in two versions to support Solution Accelerator component installation on x64 or x86 hosts. Select the version that corresponds with your host hardware type. Both versions of BDD 2007 support deployment of x86 and x64 client operating systems.
    This release includes updates to support Windows Vista SP1 in addition to previously supported platforms.
    To view this solution online at TechNet, click here.
    Also available for download are two white papers, "Quick Start for BDD 2007" and "Windows Vista Deployment Tools Overview." The quick-start guide helps you quickly learn to use BDD to perform a basic Windows Vista installation. The tools overview describes the deployment tools for Windows Vista.

    Download it at

    Add-on Management Improvements in Internet Explorer 8

    One of our goals with Internet Explorer 8 was to improve the experience of managing add-ons by bringing more types of add-ons into the management experience, and to make that experience more usable. Originally introduced in Windows XP Service Pack 2, we’ve updated the management UI in a big way for IE8.

    Here’s a screen shot of the new UI:

    IE8 Add-ons User Interface

    A familiar interface…

    When you look at the Manage Add-ons UI, you’ll probably feel comfortable with it quickly – it looks a lot like a Windows File Explorer window or the Control Panel in Windows Vista. You choose a category of object types from the left to view that list on the right. Select any item in the list and the details pane at the bottom will display information about the selected add-on.

    Most changes you make in Manage Add-ons take effect immediately, although some (like disabling a toolbar or explorer bar) might still require you to restart Internet Explorer.

    … with lots of improvements over IE7

    You can resize the window to fit your screen resolution and personal preference, and can choose custom columns, grouping, and sorting order. These preferences will be remembered the next time you open Manage Add-ons.


    • You can select multiple Add-ons from the list (CTRL+click or drag to multi-select)
    • The list supports right-click context menu actions
    • Details about add-ons can be copied to the Windows clipboard and into email, a document editor, or a spreadsheet so you can share the list with tech support (or friends or family) more easily

    No updates are required to existing controls to show up in this list

    Developers do not need to make changes to existing controls to continue to be managed in IE8. However, with the richer set of information and controls put in the hands of the user in IE8, control authors might wish to provide more detailed information with their controls. While the same set of information (such as publisher or version) is available in IE8 as was available in IE7, now it’s easier for users to view it. Add-ons without sufficient information (like an empty publisher name or version number) are often removed or disabled by users.

    Add-on developers should read this article and this blog post about ActiveX best practices for more information on how to properly develop IE add-ons.

    It’s easier to get information about installed add-ons and find new add-ons with IE8

    More detailed information about installed add-ons is available at a glance with IE8. We’ve also added links to make it easy to accomplish common tasks:

    • Find more add-ons with a single click. Just click “Find more add-ons…”
    • Don’t know what an add-on does? Click “Search for this add-on via default search provider” and we’ll help you find information about it online via your current default search provider
    • Want to know more about add-ons in general? Click “Learn more about add-ons”
    • Clicking “More information” displays more detailed technical information about installed add-ons, including file names, versions, and other properties. You can even view or clear the list of websites that ActiveX controls are allowed to run on for per-site installed ActiveX controls
    • Right-click any add-on to get easy access to common actions (like enable or disable)

    New types to manage

    In Internet Explorer 8, the list of add-ons you can manage has been expanded to include Explorer Bars, Search Providers, and Activities.

    Explorer Bars

    Explorer Bars are an extensibility type like toolbars that are supported by previous versions of Internet Explorer and IE8, but not listed in Manage Add-ons prior to IE8. With IE8 they are available so you have more control over what’s running in your browser.

    IE8 Explorer Bar

    Search Providers

    In IE7 we added support for OpenSearch Search Providers, but they had their own, separate management window. We’ve kept the functionality of the management experience for Search Providers in IE8, but moved it here. IE8 helps you to quickly see what Search Providers are installed, which is your default, and where it is sending information when you submit a search. Additionally, you can change the order that Search Providers are listed (IE7 always sorted them alphabetically).

    Search Providers Within Manage Add-ons

    Internet Explorer 8 continues to support the OpenSearch standard for Search Providers. You can read more about OpenSearch here.


    Activities, which are new to IE8, are also managed from the Manage Add-ons window. Just like Search Providers, you can view, manage, and remove installed Activities, find new Activities, and learn more about Activities directly from this window.

    Managing Add-ons in No Add-ons Mode

    IE7 and IE8 support “No Add-ons Mode,” a troubleshooting mode. When you run IE this way, no 3rd party code runs, which allows you to do things like disable troublesome controls or repair Windows via Windows Update (which is why that control is allowed to run in this mode). You can start No Add-ons Mode in a few ways:

    • Type iexplore –extoff in the Run box on the Start menu
    • Click “Internet Explorer (No Add-ons)” under All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools
    • Right-clicking the IE icon on the Start Menu (if IE is your default browser) and selecting “Browse Without Add-Ons”

    In IE7 you couldn’t run Manage Add-ons while in No Add-ons Mode, but in IE8, you can. In fact, if you click the information bar that appears when you’re running in No Add-ons Mode, it offers a quick and convenient access point to Manage Add-ons:

    Managing Add-ons in No Add-ons Mode

    Remember, No Add-ons Mode is designed for troubleshooting IE. It’s probably not the way you want to experience websites all the time, as a lot of important functionality is often provided via add-ons.

    To exit No Add-ons Mode, simply close that browser window.

    Source- IE Blog

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Wave 2008 Launch - Virtual Launch Site Live!


    Watch the launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 from your living room

    In addition to the launch event on 19th March in Birmingham, for the first time ever in the UK, we are also pleased to announce the “Virtual Launch Experience”. This gives you the opportunity to watch the Steve Ballmer keynote, view over 15 breakout sessions, visit Microsoft product and community stands, as well as sponsors stands. Along the way you can collect collateral for your virtual backpack, take advantage of the show promotions or have a leisurely browse. Remember when you are on the Virtual Launch Experience to enter the competition as there will be 1000 winners who will each receive a promotional product pack

    For anyone who couldn't make the 2008 Wave Launch up in Birmingham on the 19th March, this is a great opportunity to access all the information, sessions etc, in a really cool way.  In the VLE, you'll find:

    • Keynote address by Steve Ballmer
    • An interactive 3D Silverlight event guide
    • Microsoft product and sponsor booths, rich with videos, presentations, brochures, and special offers
    • Community exhibitors that allow you to connect with the companies and groups
    • Breakout sessions for deep diving into the 2008 Launch Wave technologies
    • A virtual backpack to store and download exhibitor content
    • A unified event interface to effortlessly navigate your virtual experience

    Best of all, it's a rich Internet application, designed and built with Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio, hosted on Windows Server 2008 accessing SQL Server 2008, and presented in Microsoft Silverlight.  Cool!

    To get to the Virtual Launch Experience go to

    Source- Technet Blog

    Microsoft Acquires Komoku

    Microsoft Acquires Komoku

    Microsoft strengthens anti-malware protection with leading-edge rootkit detection provider.

    Today Microsoft Corp. announced it has acquired Maryland-based Komoku Inc., a provider of advanced rootkit security detection solutions. Microsoft expects to add Komoku’s functionality into upcoming versions of the Forefront line of enterprise security products and Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s all-in-one PC care solution.

    “Komoku has been a leader in the area of rootkit detection, doing work for ultra security-conscious customers such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD),” said Ryan Hamlin, general manager, Access and Security Division, Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. “Komoku’s cutting-edge expertise and technology will benefit our customers by adding to the robust protection of our anti-malware solutions and help maintain our leading position in anti-malware research and development.”

    Founded in 2004, Komoku offers advanced rootkit detection. Rootkits are malicious software programs that are designed to take control of a computer’s operating system at the administrator, or root, level, where they can often hide from detection by standard anti-malware software. Komoku’s customers have included a number of high-security government agencies, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Navy, the DHS and the DOD.

    “I’m excited about the Komoku team joining Microsoft and building on our successes in detecting sophisticated rootkits for customers,” said William A. Arbaugh, president and CTO of Komoku as well as an associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland at College Park and a renowned expert on rootkits. “Microsoft’s commitment to building the next generation of malware detection is very strong, and we at Komoku look forward to continuing the tremendous progress Microsoft has already made in the anti-malware space and building the anti-malware products that can handle today’s sophisticated threats.”


    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008

    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 unifies the tools and processes required for desktop and server deployment into a common deployment console and collection of guidance. The fourth generation deployment accelerator adds integration with recently released Microsoft deployment technologies to create a single path for image creation and automated installation. MDT’s tools and end-to-end guidance reduce deployment time, standardize desktop and server images, limit service disruptions, reduce post-deployment help desk costs, and improve security and ongoing configuration management.
    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit technologies eliminate interaction time required to install desktop and server operating systems. Interaction at the targeted computer may take a few moments using the Lite Touch Installation (LTI) method or it can be completely automated using Zero Touch Installation (ZTI). Zero Touch Installation utilizes Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or Systems Management Server 2003 with the Operating System Deployment Feature Pack. Lite Touch Installation can be used when software distribution tools are not in place.
    Microsoft Deployment Tookit 2008 also uses Configuration Manager 2007’s stand-alone media-initiated operating system deployment feature. This release offers project management guidance for all deployment roles and separates technical documentation for the products and technologies to facilitate automation tasks.
    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008 enables deployment of the following Microsoft products:

    • Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate (32 and 64 bit) RTM and SP1
    • Office Professional, Professional Plus, Enterprise, and Ultimate 2007
    • Windows Server 2008
    • Windows Server 2003 R2 (32 and 64 bit)
    • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 (32 and 64 bit) or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition

    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008

    Microsoft, HP to set up Taiwan R&D centre

    Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, the world's top software and PC firms, on Thursday announced plans for a new product development centre in Taiwan, the world's computer-manufacturing hub.

    Companies such as HP and Dell are the world's top sellers of PCs, but most of the actual hardware -- about 80 percent of all laptops -- is made by Taiwan firms including Quanta Computer and Compal Electronics.

    "Microsoft and HP solution centres will help advance the technology of our Taiwanese business partners and corporate clients," John Knutsen, Director of Global Microsoft Technology Center, said at a news conference.

    Microsoft said the centre would be focused on developing advanced software, hardware and improving technical support to its Taiwan partners such as Quanta, the world's largest contract laptop maker.

    The two companies said they expect the new centre will be able to generate a return of T$2.5 billion ($83 million) worth of sales in five years.

    There are now 16 Microsoft technology centres in the world, including in Dubai, France, Germany, Britain, Bangalore and the United States, said Knutsen.

    Software giant Microsoft said earlier this month that it had not seen any major impact on its businesses from an economic slowdown, particularly in the United States, and that it has been helped by emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia.

    Hewlett-Packard posted forecast-beating quarterly earnings last month and has said its strategies in emerging markets will help it weather a tough economic climate this year.

    Source- Reuters

    Microsoft, IBM brainstorm enhancements to IDEs

    San Francisco - What will IDEs look like in four years? According to technologists at IBM and Microsoft, IDEs will have to accommodate trends such as more screen "real estate" and more pixels on the desktop.

    At an EclipseCon 2008 session in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, Tim Wagner of the Microsoft Visual Studio platform team and IBM's Kevin McGuire, an Eclipse UI developer, brainstormed on what might be expected from IDEs in 2012. Their jointly conducted session followed an earlier presentation by Microsoft's Sam Ramji, director of platform technology strategy, which showed a new interest in Eclipse by the commercial software giant.

    IDE's, McGuire and Wagner stressed, should be more connected and make developers smarter. An IDE also should be more malleable. Interaction could be different than the current mouse-and-keyboard paradigm.

    "The IDE should be our favorite app," Wagner said.

    Meanwhile, the standard desktop will have multiple CPUs and developers will have more pixels in front of them because of the use of multiple monitors, he said.??

    Wagner noted gamers have driven down the price and driven up the power of graphics processing chips, but IDEs have not kept pace. "Why does our IDE still look like something that came out in the '80's," he said.

    There are also sociological trends that IDEs need to embrace, including distributed and dynamic teams, open source and its transparency, increased scale, and developer diversity, according to Microsoft's and Eclipse's technologists.

    Other ideas presented included customizing of IDEs and better use of scripting.

    Souce- Infoworld

    Supply Chain Integrator Switches to Microsoft Dynamics AX From Oracle for Major Cost Savings

    Microsoft Corp. today announced that PACCESS, a global supply chain integrator based in Portland, Ore., has selected Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, replacing an Oracle 11.0.3 system that had become very expensive to maintain and too limited in its ability to meet the company’s needs. Microsoft Dynamics AX is a comprehensive business-management solution providing midsize and larger companies with end-to-end, industry-specific functionality, enabling them to do business across locations and countries.

    PACCESS chose Microsoft Dynamics AX because it allows many disparate systems to be unified under one core application at a lower total cost of ownership. These factors were crucial to PACCESS, a global service company whose paper, packaging, and sourcing divisions integrate procurement, logistics, distribution, and fulfillment services to meet their customer’s specific supply chain needs.

    Previously PACCESS faced expensive upgrades to its Oracle system, which it had modified repeatedly to meet its business process requirements. Scaling the system was very costly. “We tried to add five users, but we would have had to pay Oracle $365,000 because of a license-model change,” said Nina Palludan, vice president of IT for PACCESS. “The five-year total cost of ownership for Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 was more than $1 million less than Oracle’s, even though we already owned the Oracle software. Actually rebuying the Oracle e-business suite would have cost less than upgrading our current licenses.”


    Source- MS press release

    ANNOUNCING...Retail Financial Services Silverlight Demo!!

    The Silverlight 2 Retail Financial Services Demonstrator provides essential resources to help customers and ISV's to create their own demo or proof of concept based on the Silverlight 2 platform. Included in the kit are:

    • Functional Silverlight 2 Website (Woodgrove Financial)
    • Installation, customization and demo script that provides step by step instructions for installing the demo, customizing the data shown in the demo as well has how to step through the site with talking points.
    • Source Code – that is right, you also get to see and use the source code to see what is going on under the covers and use as a foundation for your own POC!


    Why use Silverlight 2 and the Demonstrator?

    • Immersive, cross-platform/cross-browser user experience
    • Insightful visualizations, improved end user experience that can be personalized and branded
    • Great performance, reuse of .NET code on the web (cross platform!!)
    • Great examples of using visualizations to help sell and service financial products including cause and effect, multiple scenarios, unified communications, etc…

    Jaime Rodriguez wrote a great blog about it here..he describes other places where you can see the demo via video, download the bits and/or the script.

    If you're interested in downloading the entire application, along with installation and walk through script, then go to  There, you'll find everything you need! 

    We're very much looking forward to any feedback you may have on this, and we're anxiously awaiting that first email from a customer saying they've used it to build a proof of concept!!

    Source- Joe Cleaver's Blog

    Dell PRODUCT (RED), XPS One Now Available in U.K., France and Germany

    Late last dell introduced our Dell PRODUCT (RED) options to customers  in the U.K., France and Germany.  Customers in those countries now join in the fight against AIDS in Africa along with customers in the United States, Latin America and Japan.

    Those (PRODUCT) RED PCs come with Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED, including (RED)-inspired desktop wallpapers, a new DreamScene, a screensaver, and Sidebar Gadgets.

    Remember, Dell and Windows will contribute $50 when you purchase either the Dell XPS M1530 or M1330 (PRODUCT) RED laptops to the Global Fund, to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. Dell and Windows will contribute $80 when you purchase a Dell XPS One (PRODUCT) RED PC to the Global Fund as well. $80 can buy 6 months of antiretroviral treatment for a single person living with AIDS in Africa. And $50 can buy 416 single dose treatments that help transmission of HIV from mother to baby. You can make a difference with your Dell and Windows (PRODUCT) RED PC purchase.

    Source- Direct2Dell  WindowsVistaBlog

    Nominate your solution for a Microsoft global award!

    Each year, via its Worldwide Partner Conference Awards program, Microsoft recognizes partners who have delivered exemplary solutions built on Microsoft technologies. Awards are presented to winning partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, this year in Houston, Texas, USA July 7-10, 2008.

    This is a unique opportunity for you to showcase your solutions. Award winners and finalists benefit from increased press coverage, and market recognition that may drive new business opportunities.

    Award categories are aligned with Microsoft Competencies and specializations. Make sure your Competency enrollment is active, then nominate your solution before April 3, 2008. The entry tool and detailed information about the Awards program can be found here.

    Microsoft Takes First Steps Toward Eclipse Support

    Microsoft has added another nickel to its open source credibility bank this morning with the announcement of its first collaboration with the Eclipse Foundation. The world's largest proprietary software maker and the non-profit host of the open source Eclipse project will work together to allow the Eclipse Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) to use Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), according to Sam Ramji, director of Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab.
    Ramji made the announcement during his keynote presentation at EclipseCon 2008, underway this week in Santa Clara, Calif. He said SWT on WPF will make it easier for Java developers to write applications with the look and feel of native Windows apps.
    "We found that there was little interest in being able to use Java to write native Windows applications that really use the power of the rendering capabilities of Windows Vista," Ramji told attendees. He added that the goal of the collaboration is to provide "a first-class authoring experience for Java developers." 

    News source: ENT Magazine

    Microsoft To Release XP SP3 Next Week

    Now that Windows Vista service pack 1 has been released, all eyes have shifted to Microsoft's plans for Windows XP service pack 3, the final package of updates for the trusty OS. And, according to at least one source, Microsoft will roll out XP SP3 next Monday. As of Wednesday afternoon Pacific time, the BitTorrent search engine Mininova listed a 568.73 MB Windows XP Professional SP3 5503 file available for download. The file, which had 112 seeds and 417 leeches, had been downloaded 2083 times since it was posted Tuesday, according to the listing.
    According to the file description notes, Microsoft will release the final version of XP SP3 on March 24, but the 5503 test build passes all Windows Genuine Advantage checks and is able to download Windows updates that previous XP SP3 builds weren't able to, which suggests that it could, in fact, be the final RTM build. When Microsoft released Vista SP1 in February, the final RTM code was identical to the Vista SP1 Release Candidate (RC) 1 Refresh 2 test build that was released to a group of 15,000 testers two weeks earlier.
    A Microsoft spokesperson, perhaps weary from the months-long barrage of Vista SP1 related inquiries, said the final version of XP SP3 is still on target to be released the first half of calendar year 2008, and the XP SP3 5503 build was a minor interim build released to address one specific issue for a subset of private beta testers. 

    News source: CRN

    The Fight Continues - Halo 3 Legendary Map Pack Arrives in April

    The Fight Continues - Halo 3 Legendary Map Pack Arrives in April
    The award-winning “Halo 3” multiplayer experience continues to evolve with three new maps available only on Xbox LIVE Marketplace

    More than 7.3 million copies of “Halo 3” have flown off store shelves, upwards of 500 million hours of frag-tacular online gameplay have been logged on Xbox LIVE and the Heroic Map Pack has been downloaded by 1 million plus gamers and counting. But it’s not over yet…

    Microsoft and Bungie today announced that April 15 will mark the release of the next wave of “Halo 3” downloadable content. Available exclusively on Xbox LIVE Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points, the Legendary Map Pack will introduce three new maps to the title’s award-winning multiplayer experience, Ghost Town, Avalanche, and one map yet to be revealed. And with the addition of some exciting Forge options, fans can explore new ways to create and share their custom “Halo 3” content.

    Ghost Town is a battle-scarred maze of narrow passages and dangerous ruins outside the once-prosperous city of Voi. Collapsed ceilings and shell-battered buildings provide both valuable cover and deadly traps, as catwalks and stairways take the fight from claustrophobic ground combat to dizzying rooftop battles. Ghost Town is a mid-sized map ideal for Team Slayer games and smaller, objective types.

    Ghost Town:

    Ghostly Exteriors Using the Back Door

    The second map, Avalanche, is a tribute to Sidewinder, a “Halo: Combat Evolved” fan-favorite. This massive, vehicle-oriented objective map adds a twist to its classic predecessor with all new interiors, dramatically reshaped exteriors and brand new vehicle variants. Take a ride and admire the visual variety from the cockpit of the retuned Hornet.


    The Wraith Looks so Small Capture This FlagOminous Forerunner SpiresMancannon Into the Base

    The third map to be included in the Legendary Pack has yet to be announced, but stay tuned to for full details on another returning classic… fans of smaller Slayer maps, it’s time to get excited.

    Be sure to check out  and for all the latest information and screenshots of the new maps.

    source- Gamerscoreblog

    Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Management Pack

    The Exchange 2003 Management Pack monitors the performance and availability of Exchange 2003 Server systems. It can also issue alerts for possible configuration problems Availability and performance monitoring is done using synthetic transactions. In addition, the Management Pack collects Event Log alerts and provides associated knowledge articles with additional user details, possible causes, and suggested resolutions. The Management Pack discovers and monitors the individual server components and functional areas on an Exchange 2003 Server.
    Feature Bullet Summary: This management pack monitors Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and includes monitors and rules to track performance, availability, and reliability of Exchange core components and functionality. • MAPI, OWA, OMA, EAS synthetic logon transactions • Mail flow synthetic transaction • Mail Queue monitoring using Self-Tuning Thresholds • Comprehensive performance metric collection • 1000+ Event rules with associated knowledge • Database status • Database size • Mailbox statistics • Public folder statistics • Message tracking log statistics • Exchange and related OS Service monitoring • Configuration monitoring • Topology discovery of Exchange deployment • Integration in Exchange Best Practice Analyzer and ExDiag tools • Reports in the area of Configuration and Configuration changes, Availability, Performance
    Management Pack Release History:
    3/23/2007 - Initial Release Version 6.0.5000.0
    6/25/2007 - Updated Release Version 6.0.5000.11, version details 6.0.5000.0 6.0.5000.11 6.05000.11
    1/15/2008 - Updated Guide - same version
    2/25/2008 - Updated MP Guide and Management Pack. Please refer to the MP Guide for details. 6.0.6278.0 6.0.6278.0 6.0.6278.0
    3/17/2008 Updated MP Guide and Management Pack. Please refer to the MP Guide for details. 6.0.6278.2 6.0.6278.2 6.0.6278.2

    Download here

    Microsoft Reaches Virtualization Milestone With Release Candidate of Hyper-V

    Reaching the next major milestone in virtualization development, Microsoft Corp. today made broadly available a feature-complete release candidate of Microsoft Hyper-V, the hypervisor-based virtualization software available with various versions of Windows Server 2008. A beta of Hyper-V was included with Windows Server 2008 when it launched last month, and this release candidate provides updated, near-final code.

    Hyper-V provides customers with efficient and cost-effective virtualization infrastructure software. It enables customers to reduce operating costs by increasing hardware utilization, optimizing infrastructure and improving server availability. Customers and partners can download the release candidate at by 10 a.m. PDT today.

    Hyper-V is a thinner, more optimized virtualization technology than we’ve seen from other vendors, and we look forward to improving server utilization and better managing our datacenter, especially in a clustered environment,” said Jason Nord, server engineer at Land O’Lakes Inc. “While evaluating Hyper-V, we’ve found it offers better support for running simultaneous operating systems, which helps us consolidate our applications that run on a variety of older software and servers.”

    Source- MS Press Release

    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Windows Vista SP1 Guides for IT Professionals

    These guides will assist IT Professionals in evaluating and deploying Windows Vista SP1 and are downloadable versions of the SP1 guides found in the Windows Vista Technical Library. (

    You can download it here

    Announcing the Microsoft BizTalk Server Operations Guide

    The BizTalk Product Team is pleased to announce the availability of the Microsoft BizTalk Server Operations Guide.

    The 660 page guide is available on MSDN, and as a separate PDF, DOCX or CHM download.

    The guide is based on real-world experience from BizTalk Rangers, PFE and other customer engagements. This guide is intended to provide guidance around maintaining and operating BizTalk Solutions in demanding production environments. This has been a long standing request from our customers and partners.

    The target audience is Microsoft field, partner organizations, and customers who plan, deploy, and maintain BizTalk Server installations. The guide was created from collections of checklists, best practices, and presentations to guide future BizTalk Server operations IT professionals.

    Key portions of this guide are new; while other portions consists of documentation taken from BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Help, white papers, Knowledge Base articles, and other sources. It has been carefully reviewed and vetted by experts from the community of BizTalk Server IT professionals and members of the product development team, whom we gratefully acknowledge. We believe that the information presented here will help BizTalk Server users solve, and above all, avoid many of the common problems.

    Source- MSDN

    Release Notes for Windows Vista Service Pack 1

    These release notes provide important information you should know before deploying and using Windows Vista SP1. You should familiarize yourself with all of the known issues in this document prior to installing the software.
    For an overview of significant changes and improvements in SP1, see
    For a list of the hotfixes and security updates included in SP1, see

    you can download the here

    Microsoft Student Partners - Now Recruiting for Academic Year '08

    The Microsoft Student Partner is a way for students to affiliate themselves with Microsoft getting the opportunity to represent the company at their university and pick up some cool prizes along the way. Plus it looks great on your CV.

    Microsoft Student Partner

    From the MSP site:

    "Microsoft Student Partners carry out tasks such as organising guest Microsoft lectures, delivering technical sessions to their peers, conducting student events and giveaways on campus, and a whole lot more to help us deliver more value to universities and build better relationships with lecturers and students alike."

    If you're interested in getting involved then click here to find out more and apply.

    Source- Ed Dunhill's Blog

    Windows Vista Service Pack 1 available for download

    Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an update to Windows Vista that addresses feedback from our customers. In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability, performance, and compatibility issues; supporting new types of hardware; and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also will continue to make it easier for IT administrators to deploy and manage Windows Vista. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Five Language Standalone version can be installed on systems with any of the following language versions: English (US), French, German, Japanese, or Spanish (Traditional).
    Read the overview of Windows Vista SP1, including what's new, technical details, guidelines and notable changes.
    Read the Deployment Guide for Windows Vista SP1. This guide includes technical information, procedures, and recommendations for installing Windows Vista SP1 in a business or corporate environment.
    DO NOT CLICK DOWNLOAD IF YOU ARE UPDATING JUST ONE COMPUTER: A smaller, more appropriate download is available on Windows Update.
    To download the Standalone version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 please follow the directions below in the Instructions section.
    Before installing SP1, please visit the Windows Vista TechCenter and read the page "Things to Know Before you Download Windows Vista SP1"

    Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Five Language Standalone for x64-based Systems

    Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Five Language Standalone for x86-based Systems

    EA Signs Multiyear Agreement With Massive to Offer Dynamic In-Game Advertising on Titles for Xbox 360 and Windows-Based PC Platforms

    Electronic Arts Inc. and Massive Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. and a leading network for video game advertising, today announced an expansion and two-year extension of their agreement to offer dynamic in-game advertising for EA video games. The new global agreement provides unprecedented opportunities for advertisers to engage with EA’s highly coveted audience — especially males ages 18 to 34 — through its roster of blockbuster games on the Xbox 360™ platform and exclusive rights to a majority of EA’s premium PC products.

    With over three years of experience in dynamically serving advertisements in video games, Massive is the definitive in-game advertising solution for advertisers around the world, including Ford Motor Co. in the U.S., Rogers in Canada, and Puma in Europe. Massive’s long-standing relationship with EA, publisher of many of the world’s most popular games, provides advertisers with extensive reach through EA’s portfolio of premium content video games. This agreement represents a critical point of differentiation for Massive as the in-game advertising medium continues its momentum as a more attractive and effective medium compared with traditional forms of established advertising.

    With the latest agreement, EA will further expand the opportunities available to advertisers by extending the participation of current titles in the Massive network as well as incorporating additional, highly anticipated games over the course of the deal. The wide range of EA content that will be available in the Massive network includes the next two iterations of popular EA SPORTS™ franchises including Madden NFL football, NBA LIVE basketball, NASCAR ® racing and NHL® hockey.

    Massive will continue to be the exclusive in-game ad network for PC and Xbox 360 platforms of the world’s largest racing franchise, EA’s Need For Speed™, including current live titles Need for Speed Carbon and Need for Speed ProStreet. Massive is also working with marketers to incorporate dynamic advertising into another popular EA racing title, BurnoutParadise.

    Source- Microsoft Press Release

    New Expression Community launched


    It has all the usual gubbins you would expect from a community site with news, blogs, forums, training, links and more for anyone interested in the Expression product set and looking for information or inspiration

    Source- Mark Johnston's Blog

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Xbox LIVE Official Halo 3 Tournament

    Halo players from Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand can show off their skills as Microsoft today announced the 'Official Halo 3 Tournament.'

    The Tournament is open for registration from March 10. All you need to do to sign up is head to your Xbox LIVE Dashboard, click on The Official Halo 3 Tournament adverts, and download the exclusive GamerPic. You can read terms and conditions here.

    Once you’re registered open play runs from April 1 until April 14. You’ll need to perform on the three game modes that make up The Official Halo 3 Tournament Sponsored By Samsung TV Playlist – Slayer, King of the Hill and Oddball.

    At the end of open play the top ranked player from Australia will be crowned Halo 3 National Champion and rewarded with a piece of exclusive framed Halo artwork and 5000 MS points. They will also qualify for the Asia Pacific Final, where all national champions from the Asia Pacific will clash in a one-off Xbox LIVE match to decide who is truly Legendary.

    And the spoils for the Asia Pacific Halo 3 Champion? The ultimate winner will also receive a 40” Samsung TV from their brand new Series 6 range, which has been designed to combine beautiful design with astonishing picture quality, as well as an Xbox 360 Elite console and LIVE accessories pack.

    So what are you waiting for? Get on Xbox LIVE, get registered, and prepare to discover whether you have what it takes to be Legendary in The Official Halo 3 Tournament

    Great contest so every get started and enjoy the contest